Alexander Graf Lambsdorff

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Count Alexander Lambsdorff

Alexander Sebastian Léonce von der Wenge Lambsdorff, also styled Alexander-Graf Lambsdorff (born 5 November 1966 at Cologne) is a German politician (and former diplomat) of aristocratic descent, who since 2004, has represented the Free Democratic Party of Germany as a Member of the European Parliament.

Alexander Lambsdorff (or Count Lambsdorff) was elected Vice-President of the European Parliament in 2014.[1]

Family, early life and education[edit]

Lambsdorff coat of arms

Of Prussian Westphalian ancestry, his family's title was created in 1817 by Alexander I of Russia.[2] His father, Count Hagen Lambsdorff (born 1935), is a former German Ambassador to the Czech Republic and Latvia and his uncle, Count Otto Lambsdorff (1926-2009), was a West German politician and Cabinet Minister from 1977 until 1982.

Lambsdorff grew up in Hamburg, Brussels, and Bonn, attending the Catholic Academic High School Aloisiuskolleg at Bonn-Bad Godesberg until 1985, before going up to the University of Bonn. From 1991 until 1993 Lambsdorff studied at Georgetown University on a Fulbright Scholarship graduating as a MA in History and an MS in Foreign Service (1993). After diplomatic training, he served on the German Policy Planning Staff (together with Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, his contemporary and now fellow FDP MEP) before becoming director of the Bundestag office of former German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, after the FDP left government in 1998.[3]

In 1994, he married Franziska, daughter of Werner von Klitzing and Princess Wilhelmina of Wied,[4] by whom he has two children.[5]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Political career[edit]

Lambsdorff was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004 and was confirmed in 2009 and 2014. Held in high regard, he was widely viewed as a possible successor to Graham Watson as leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group in the parliament, but due to the vagaries of European politics, the post went instead to Guy Verhofstadt, a former Prime Minister of Belgium.[6] From 2011, Lambsdorff chaired the 12-member German FDP delegation in the European Parliament, before subsequently being elected Leader of the European Liberals and Democrats Group in 2014.

Until 2014, Lambsdorff served as member of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs and the EU-Delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China. He has served as a deputy on the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education and on the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee DACP as well as the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Following the 2014 elections to the European Parliament, Lambsdorff became member of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade. In this capacity, he has served as the parliament's rapporteur on the EU's agreement on the participation of Croatia in the European Economic Area.

Lambsdorff has led EU-Election Observer Missions on numerous occasions: as head of the EU-Election Observation Mission during the 2007–08 Kenyan crisis, he described the presidential elections as "flawed".[7] Other elections he has overseen include the Bangladeshi general election in 2008[8] and the first free Guinean presidential elections in 2010.[9] As an MEP, he steered efforts to create a single EU-market for Defence and Security-related equipment as parliamentary rapporteur in 2009.[10]

In January 2014, at the FDP Convention in Bonn, Lambsdorff was elected as his party's lead candidate for the European Parliament elections receiving a resounding 86.2% of the vote.[11]

Timeline[edit]

  • 2004: Election to the European Parliament
  • 2007: Chief of the EU Election Observation Mission in Bangladesh
  • 2008: Chief of the EU Election Observation Mission in Kenia
  • 2009: Re-election to the European Parliament and appointment as Vice Chair of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
  • 2009: Chief of the EU Election Observation Mission in Bangladesh
  • 2010: Chief of the EU Election Observation Mission in Guinea
  • 2011: Appointment as Chair of the German FDP delegation in the European Parliament
  • 2012: Chief of the EU Election Assessment Mission in Libya
  • 2014: Vice-President of the European Parliament

Memberships[edit]

  • Founding Member of the FDP LV Net
  • Member of the North Rhine-Westphalia Executive Committee
  • Member of the Federal Executive Committee
  • Member of the ELDR Council and Congress

See also: European Parliament election, 2004 (Germany) European Parliament election, 2009 (Germany)

Political positions[edit]

European integration[edit]

Lambsdorff has become increasingly critical of an accession of Turkey to the European Union and publicly declared that accession talks should be suspended until the Turkish government returns to the direction of the EU.[12][13] In 2011, he accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of using "gunboat rhetoric" in his statements about Israel, adding that "with a strident anti-Israel course, it isn't making any friends in Europe."[14] On the 2014 post-election protests in Turkey, he commented: "There are more journalists in jail [in Turkey] than in China or Iran and now the Prime Minister wants to close down YouTube and Twitter because people are saying things he doesn’t like."[15] When Erdoğan, then in his position as President of Turkey, disparaged German president Joachim Gauck as a "pastor" in 2014, Lambsdorff demanded that "the negotiations [on EU accession] should be put in a deep freeze."[16]

Following British Prime Minister David Cameron's veto of EU-wide treaty change to tackle the European debt crisis in 2011, Lambsdorff was quoted by German weekly Der Spiegel as saying: "It was a mistake to admit the British into the European Union."[17]

When Chancellor Angela Merkel's government opted in 2011 to abstain from United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing military force against Libya, Lambsdorff publicly criticized his fellow FDP member and then Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, arguing that "Germany's vote has weakened the EU."[18]

Human rights[edit]

Along with his fellow parliamentarians Marietje Schaake, Ramon Tremosa and members of the Greens/EFA group, Lambsdorff nominated Leyla Yunus, imprisoned Azerbaijani human rights activist and director of the Institute of Peace and Democracy, for the 2014 Sakharov Prize.[19]

Economic policy[edit]

As a consequence of the European debt crisis, Lambsdorff told the Financial Times Deutschland in 2012 that it might make sense to give the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs greater influence over euro-zone countries’ budgets.[20]

Following the 2014 European elections, Lambsdorff openly rejected Pierre Moscovici’s nomination as European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, stating that Moscovici should be held accountable for France's rising deficit and worsening economic situation.[21]

Language[edit]

In December 2014, Lambsdorff proposed that the English language should be mastered by servants of the public administration, and should later become an official language of Germany, in addition to German. According to Lambsdorff, as experienced in other countries with a good knowledge of English in public institutions, this should help to attract more skilled migrants to prevent labor shortage, to ease business for investors and to establish a more welcoming culture.[22] As evaluated by a representative YouGov survey, 59 percent of all Germans would welcome the establishment of English as an official language in the whole European Union.[23]

Other activities[edit]

Notes[edit]

Regarding personal names: Graf is a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. The female form is Gräfin.

It is equivalent to the noble rank of Earl (female form: Countess).

References[edit]

  1. ^ www.aldeparty.eu
  2. ^ www.almanachdegotha.org
  3. ^ Toby Vogel (October 31, 2012), Unflappable Liberal European Voice.
  4. ^ www.thepeerage.com
  5. ^ www.william1.co.uk
  6. ^ Toby Vogel (31 October 2012), Unflappable Liberal European Voice.
  7. ^ Jeffrey Gettleman (31 December 2007), Disputed Vote Plunges Kenya Into Bloodshed New York Times.
  8. ^ Bangladesh election seen as fair, though loser disputes result New York Times, 30 November 2008.
  9. ^ Adam Nossiter (26 June 2010), Guineans Revel in Prospect of First Free Vote New York Times.
  10. ^ Zoë Casey (14 January 2009), Parliament backs single defence market European Voice.
  11. ^ Dave Keating (22 January 2014), Germany's FDP launches pragmatic Europe campaign EurActiv.
  12. ^ Mu Xuequan (15 March 2014), News Analysis: Turkey at risk in accession talks with EU Xinhua News Agency.
  13. ^ Robin Emmott (15 January 2015), Turkey, EU seek to minimise differences as Davutoglu visits Brussels Reuters.
  14. ^ Annett Meiritz (14 September 2011), Erdogan's 'Dangerous Macho Posturing': EU Politicians Slam Turkey's Anti-Israel Course Spiegel Online.
  15. ^ Andrew Rettman (12 March 2014), Boy's death spurs anti-Erdogan feeling in EU parliament EUobserver.
  16. ^ Ralf Neukirch, Paul Middelhoff, Maximilian Popp, Christoph Schult and Oliver Trenkamp (9 May 2014), On the Stump: Erdogan Lashes Out at Germany in Search of Votes Der Spiegel.
  17. ^ Veit Medick and Annett Meiritz (9 December 2011), 'Cameron Is a Coward': European Politicians Slam British EU Veto Spiegel Online.
  18. ^ A 'Catastrophic Signal' to the Arab World: Berlin Divided over Security Council Abstention Der Spiegel, 21 March 2011.
  19. ^ Georgi Gotev (24 September 2014), EuroMaidan nominated for Sakharov prize EurActiv.
  20. ^ The World from Berlin: Schäuble Plan 'Would Fundamentally Change Euro Zone' Spiegel Online, 17 October 2012.
  21. ^ Schäuble doubts French claim to EU Commission monetary portfolio EurActiv, 15 July 2014.
  22. ^ English should become an administration language in Germany (German), Die Welt, Essay by Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, 15 December 2014
  23. ^ Surveay: Majority of Germans pro English as an official language, YouGov , 9 August 2013

External links[edit]